One of my earliest cooking memories is watching my grandmother make a lemon meringue pie. I recall standing on a chair next to the stove, watching her putting bits of butter into the lemon filling, and, of course, being the good child I was, asking Why?! Pies are my favorite dessert, and of all the flavors, lemon meringue is the best. So, when Jen from The Canadian Baker announced that the January challenge would be my favorite pie, I was excited. Plus, it didn't hurt that I have 2 Meyer lemon trees in the backyard, just begging to be harvested.
The biggest challenge for me was using different recipes for both the pie crust and the filling, since I've been baking this pie for many years.
The crust took the longest time because of all the waiting for chilling time.
While it wasn't difficult, it did shrink somewhat during baking, in spite of my being very careful not to stretch the dough (new dough, new feel) and using my pie weights. I wasn't thrilled with the texture or the thickness, so it's unlikely I will use it in the future.
The filling came next. Again, straightforward, although many other bakers in this challenge had issues with the texture.
Finally, I prepared the meringue, being careful to beat it just long enough. Once assembled, the pie went back into the oven for browning. I watched the pie during this part, since I didn't want burnt meringue. The end result produced a delicious pie with no weeping, not even on my part, and it lasted several days in the refrigerator without deteriorating.
All in all, it was a successful challenge, but I just felt I could do better, so I challenged myself to tweak the recipe a bit to improve it.
This time, I used my own pie crust recipe, adding sugar and using half butter and half vegetable shortening for taste and texture. Instead of one pie, I made 6 tarts, deciding on a free-form, sort of flowery design. While the oven was heating, the tart shells were in the freezer.
For the filling, I combined the egg yolks, cold water, sugar, and cornstarch in a pan, then cooked the mixture until thickened. It's a simple method and the egg yolks are cooked without being scrambled. Once thickened, the butter was added in bits, then the remaining ingredients.
I made no changes to the meringue, although I prepared it before I cooked the filling so it would be ready to go.
This time, I piped it onto the tarts, and the final results were even better than round 1, with no weeping, no leaking, no shrinking.
In the end, the two versions tasted exactly the same, although the second one was easier to make and more reliable. Thanks to Jen for a delicious challenge For the recipe, go to Jen's blog site. Check out the results from all the other bakers who were daring enough to try a lemon meringue pie.
PS: After 2 days, these little tarts are still holding their own -- no soggy crust, no oozing of any kind. Only one more left. (Ignore the bite marks)